10 Tips for Italics in Appeal Briefs

imagesBryan A. Garner’s The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (West, 2d Ed. revised, 2006), offers 10 tips on using italics in appeal briefs.

Italicize –

  • for emphasis (rather than underlining)
  • foreign words and phrases (that have not been anglicized)
  • a letter, word, or phrase when defining it (rather than quotation marks)
  • names of cases (rather than underlining)
  • titles of books, articles, and other publications
  • citation signals (such as see, cf.)
  • subsequent history in a case citation

Do not italicize:

  • words or phrases already within italicized matter (use roman instead)
  • punctuation marks after the italics unless it is part of the matter itself
  • when italicizing becomes overused.

Of these tips, three strike me the most. The first is using italics for emphasis. Garner suggests that italics for emphasis is best used within quoted material to show relevance to the point you are making. When writing your own words, there are other ways to highlight your point. You can use word order, strong verbs and precise nouns, and pithy quotations. Other rhetorical techniques include using repetition, parallelism, and conjunctions.

The next tip that strikes me is using italics for book titles. Garner elsewhere explains that the Bluebook and the ALWD diverge on this point. He agrees with the ALWD that book titles are italicized; the Bluebook says use large and small caps.

In South Carolina, either citation form will work. Rule 268, SCACR, suggests that we use either the Bluebook, or A Guide to South Carolina Legal Research and Citation, or any other publication. In turn, the SC Guide provides that either italics or large/small caps may be used for book titles.

Lastly, Garner joins those steeped in typography by forbidding underlining case names. Absolutely forbids it. Lawyers in South Carolina may get tripped up here because Rule 268, SCACR, underlines case names when explaining how to cite them. This is just part of the bad typography suggested in the SC appellate rules. Underlining case names is only a suggestion, however, and can give way when other publications suggest italics.

Any thoughts on using italics for emphasis? In case names? Please leave a reply or reach me  here.



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